MICHAEL O’CONNELL paints a half-eaten apple and signs the canvas René Magritte.
It is as if O’Connell wants onlookers to know he’s stolen the Belgian surrealist’s iconic apple motif.
“No, not stole,” the 53-year-old artist chimes in. “Re-appropriated. Repurposed.”
O’Connell explains how he painted his own bites in Magritte’s apple, placed a clear perspex sheet on top and printed the words “museum quality bullshit” over it.
“I’m poking fun of the entire process of making art,” the North Fremantle man says.
“I taught art for 20-odd years at a high school level and had always told my students to look, learn and borrow.
“I’ve borrowed an idea, bent it into my own creation and made it all completely obvious.”
O’Connell says his latest exhibition White Lies—at Moores Building on Henry Street in Fremantle this week—is about taking on a persona and harmless white lies, or “half-truths”, people tell themselves.
Other borrowed ideas come from Andy Warhol, Sidney Nolan, Picasso, Van Gogh and Roy Lichtenstein.
He drew further inspiration from Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images—a painting of a smoking pipe with the famous French caption “ceci n’est pas une pipe”, which translates as “this is not a pipe”.
Among the 27 exhibition artworks will be the former Eagle’s 2014 Archibald Prize entry—a painting revealing the private and public profiles of football broadcaster Dennis Cometti.
It took O’Connell two years to complete White Lies, which runs June 19 to July 5.
Opening night is 6-8pm. For more information, visit http://www.fac.org.au/moores-building
by EMMIE DOWLING